The water in the Fenhe River in north China’s Shanxi province is now crystal clear again thanks to local governments efforts on ecological restoration.
The “biggest beneficiary” of the ecological achievement is the Shanxi provincial canoe and kayak team. “Now we have one of the best courses in the country,” said Jin Gang, the coach of the team who had to take the athletes to southern China for training due to heavy pollution of the river.
The ecological management of the Fenhe River is just one of the concrete steps Shanxi has taken to promote ecological conservation and green development.
In recent years, the province has vigorously carried out ecological poverty alleviation, turning green development into a cash cow for residents in mountainous areas. It rated the first batch of villages for 4A-level rural tourism demonstration in a bid to revitalize the tourism sector, and also convened meetings on ecological restoration of abandoned surface coal mines in key areas of the Yellow River basin. These efforts have received widespread attention in the country.
As an energy- and resources-rich province, Shanxi relied mainly on coal mining, coke, metal smelting, and power industries. Thus, industrial restructuring and upgrading remained an urgent and heavy task for the province. Besides, the province also faced a pressing need to treat pollution and protect environment.
In January 2020, Shanxi issued a guideline on accelerating high-quality economic development through environmental protection, aiming to strengthen environmental protection with a package of policies.
The province pledged efforts to strictly plan and control the expansion of projects that cause pollution, and shut down small-scale businesses on short industrial chain that are loose in structure and cause heavy pollution. It also vowed to allocate more funds to reward ecological protection efforts. All this demonstrated the determination of Shanxi to improve environment, guide industrial restructuring, and pursue high-quality development.
Whether ecological environment protection can achieve success is decided by economic structure and development models. To solve the left-over problems caused by excessive coal mining in mountainous areas of Taiyuan, capital of the province, the city encouraged private capital to participate in ecological management.
Zhang Junping, who used to run a heating company in the city, “claimed” Yuquan mountain for ecological restoration about ten years ago. “My heating company burned black coal in boilers, and now I’m all green,” he said.
By integrating ecological management with high-quality development, Shanxi is protecting the environment while pursuing development and achieving development in a well-protected environment.
It gives enough policy support to eligible enterprises and projects pursuing high-quality development, which guides new projects to follow a path of green, low-carbon and circular development.
In the province, the emission cut by heavy-polluting enterprises through facility upgrading and pollution treatment is turned into emission quota which is allocated preferentially to high-tech and emerging industries. The province also established a name list of enterprises that enables listed companies to be free from certain regulation measures.
The province implements strict management of and control over major polluting enterprises and projects that do not meet or even go against the requirements for high-quality development, which propels traditional industries and enterprises to either upgrade or exit the market in an orderly manner and creates more “green space” for high-quality development.
Ecological environment protection is an important aspect of achieving high-quality development, high-level rise, high-standard protection, and high-quality life in Shanxi. It is also a bottleneck that needs to be broken through. By making efforts to modernize the governance system and capacity of ecological environment protection, Shanxi is expected to build itself into a more beautiful province at a faster speed.